for the greater good

On Wednesday of last week, Kathy and I attended a neighborhood watch meeting. We learned recently that our neighborhood has the second highest crime rate in all of South Jordan. That’s interesting to me, because I’ve only seen the police in the neighborhood about four or five times in the four years we’ve lived here. I guess the overall crime rate in the city must be fairly low.

We actually have two neighborhood watch groups in the neighborhood. The eastern part of the neighborhood has been organized for longer, and has been doing nightly driving patrols on the weekends. People from our area will, at least initially, be doing patrols on Tuesday through Thursday nights starting next week. These patrols have strict instructions to not get involved with any incidents they see, instead they are to log it and report it to police dispatch. Last night Kathy and I happened to be awake and outside about 1:30 AM and actually saw the patrol go by.

At the meeting, Kathy volunteered to be the one who contacts people to remind them they have patrol duty, and I am willing to set up a mailing list and possibly a website to aid in coordination and management efforts. Before I put a lot of effort into that, I do need to find out what the other group already has in terms of tools for managing the organization.

The two women who are heading our section of the neighborhood are very nice people and have the best intentions, but they are not the best organizers. Kathy pointed out to me afterwards that the agenda they printed was pretty vague, a prime reason that the meeting got derailed several times and went more than twice as long as planned. I think it was only the second or third meeting they’d had, so I expect they’ll get better.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the organizers, the one in charge of the night-time driving patrol, is not a Member. Normally, the only truly effective way to get to know your neighbors on a large scale in a place like this is through church. Between my agnosticism, Kathy’s apostasy, a desire to be left alone where religion is concerned, and an overall laziness, we only know a few of our neighbors. Neighborhood watch may be our ticket into being a real part of the community. We’ve become pretty good friends with the neighbor across the street, who had his car broken into a few weeks ago. This is how we heard about the neighborhood watch meeting.

I have an underlying giggle through all of this because in the days before the meeting, I had just seen Hot Fuzz.

3 responses to “for the greater good”

  1. I think you are right when you say that in Utah the way to know your neighbors is through the church. But I don’t think it is religion based but rather organizationally. You could have a social network based on any other criteria but in Utah that social network tends to be religious.

    In California, where my father-in-law lives, he runs a mean (and highly organized) neighborhood committee based around natural disaster instead of crime or religion. In one of the areas he lived flooding was a yearly occurrence. As a result he knows everyone and they all know him and they know each other.

    I think it is great that you are jumping in and organizing something and getting to know your neighbors is a very good thing–and something I’m not really good at.

  2. Sounds an awful lot like the mess we got roped into in for our neighborhood.

    I was really hoping for the Elder Wand.

  3. We’re not going to volunteer to be block captains or do the driving patrol. If the phone reminder thing starts to turn into a phone tree thing, I’m sure Kathy will either tell them she only wants to do reminders, or she will un-volunteer.

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